New charter school welcomes students

K-3 school named after lifelong GRPS educator Dr. Gerald Dawkins
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Gerald Dawkins Academy, a new k-3 Grand Valley State University charter school, located at 1050 Fisk Road, SE, Grand Rapids, welcomed its first students Aug. 22, 2023. Courtesy photo.

A new k3 school has opened its doors in Southeast Grand Rapids.

Located in the heart of the city at 1050 Fisk Road, SE, Gerald Dawkins Academy is the latest addition to Grand Rapids’ elementary education landscape. The public charter school is focused on boosting low literacy rates through small class sizes, one-on-one technology, and a personalized learning experience for each student.

Gerald Dawkins Academy principal Mike Frost. Courtesy photo.

“We are so excited for the children and families who are making Gerald Dawkins Academy their choice,” said Gerald Dawkins Academy Principal and former Grand Rapids Public Schools educator Mark Frost. “My Assistant Principal Lacey James and I believe in this literacy-intensive model and have the utmost confidence in the teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, and volunteers who have been assembled for this awesome opportunity to provide a well-rounded academic experience for our scholars.”

The school is named after lifelong educator Dr. Gerald Dawkins (1949-2021) who believed children are deserving of a strong education, regardless of where they lived. According to the renowned educator’s obituary, Dawkins began his career as a teacher and counselor with Grand Rapids Public Schools and eventually held the titles of assistant superintendent for educational services followed by chief of staff. Dawkins went on to become superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools and later moved to Louisiana, where he was the superintendent at Caddo Parish Public Schools in Shreveport. Dawkins also served as Senior Vice President of Superintendent and District Relations with Virginia-based K12 Insight.

The driving force behind Gerald Dawkins Academy is the Center for Sound Literacy, a Grand Rapids-based organization with a mission to impact the future lives of urban elementary students through the power of literacy achievement.

Authorized by Grand Valley State University, the newly renovated school is committed to fostering strong parental involvement, as well as being the very best neighbor it can be to the families in the surrounding neighborhood.

Jerry McComb, Gerald Dawkins Academy board president. Courtesy photo.

“One of the most attractive aspects of this school is its location, because proximity matters,” said Gerald Dawkins Academy Board President and former Grand Rapids Public Schools educator Jerry McComb. “One of our primary goals is to have all of our students reading at grade level by third grade, and we know this neighborhood is growing and there are more families moving in. We also know literacy rates are not where they need to be in this neighborhood, so it’s our desire to come and walk alongside children and families in this critically important work.”

While classes began on Tuesday, Aug. 22, it’s not too late to enroll your student. To learn more about Gerald Dawkins Academy, visit www.dawkinsacademy.org.

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